Swiss army knives always used to worry me. My younger brother was always one of those children who was obsessed with shiny, sharp things at an early age, and like a magpie, collected a range of cutting, sawing, mechanical instruments over the years. Now training to be an engineer, it is safe to say that the Swiss Army knife was his companion over the years. I, on the other hand, squirmed and stumbled my way through the workshop sessions in architecture and shortly abandoned my Stanley knife, a few scars later, without so much as a backward glance. It therefore can be assumed that it is my brother’s type – the DIY fanatic and Bear Grylls BFF soulmate, that this Victorinox campaign is appealing too. Although, there is something in the intricacy and beauty of this artwork that also attracts the perfectionist in me.
In today’s health and safety times, it must be difficult to advertise a knife. I assume that it also must be challenging to pin down the knife’s purpose – the Swiss army knife typically bought as a “jack of all trades”, a manufacturing feat of cramming in as many possible functions into a small piece of plastic, to be later proudly shown off on a camping trip. However, Victorinox does not do this. Instead, it teamed up with UK artist Rob Ryan to promote the launch of their new pocket-sized model, the Tomo. Tomo means ‘companion’ or ‘friend’ in Japanese, which gives you a clue of the tone and emotion that this ad is trying to evoke.
As part of the Modern Art Cutting campaign, which was created by agency Pd3, Rob Ryan was commissioned to create an A1 ‘tree of life’ drawing (above) where characters are depicted carving messages and seemingly generating the artwork itself. It is all very much about the craft of lovingly creating the image and embracing the back-to-basics, Stone Age principles of carving and cutting. Yes, the work has the wow “I could never do that” factor, but the campaign also invites users to participate and have a go at the stencils downloadable from the Victorinox website, aided (most probably) by one of Rob’s masterclass films. Plus, if an utter knife-wielding novice, you can also resort to sending a message that looks impressively home-made… *hint* here is one I made earlier –
As always with these campaigns, there is a much deeper story (or clever-sounding strategy). Pd3 describes the work as depicting “how the Swiss army knife is shared and passed down from generation to generation, always ready and waiting in your pocket to help. The backdrop of the piece draws on the beauty of Swiss forests, inspired by Ryan’s trip to Ibach.” Given the amount of time and skill that it takes to make this, for once I will leave those “words of wisdom” and odd misplaced effort of environmentalism unquestioned.